National Award winner Teacher get his school in far-off village in national limelight

Srinagar: 38-year-old school teacher Riyaz Ahmad Sheikh, who was honoured with National Award last week, has set a clear goal – that is to serve poor and downtrodden children.

Sheikh, a resident of Chittergul village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district received the National Teachers’ Award from President Droupadi Murmu in New Delhi on September 5 for his persistent and strenuous efforts in the education sector. 75 teachers from different states and union territories received the national award this year.

Over the last 14 years, he has been posted at Government Middle School Poshnadi Anantnag and has immensely helped in increasing the enrolment of economically downtrodden. He has engaged children in extracurricular activities and also set up an ‘honesty box’ in the school premises.

With his undeterred efforts, he has played a vital role in bringing the school to national limelight. His School also received the PM School for Rising India (PM SHRI) award this year.

“My motive has always been to work for the deprived, poor and downtrodden children so that they become successful,” Sheikh told UNI.

He said there were only 45 children including seven girl students when he joined the school in 2009 who were studying in a two room school structure.

“ There are now 110 students and among them 60 percent are girls. After joining school, I adopted unique ways to attract students. This encouraged their parents and they provided land to the school. On that land we built a school of ten rooms with the government funds and later the school was upgraded from Primary to Middle standard,” he said.

Besides academics, he ensures that the children are not behind in extracurricular activities. The girl students of school, he said, have been going for a 15 days snow skiing course to Gulmarg for the past five years and parents are allowing them on his reputation.

Sheikh said that Deputy Commissioner Anantnag provided him Rs 3 Lakh after seeing the activities in the school for purchasing a TV set for learning. Besides a projector, a mike, a computer and stationary, school bags and other items were also managed out of these funds

And there were of course a lot of challenges for him during this journey.

“Initially the locals didn’t have faith but slowly they began to send their children to school,”, he said.

The award winning teacher has also set up a cosmetic stall in the school for the children to use during the winter months.

“I have also developed an “honesty box” in the school for the children. If they find any amount which incidentally may have been dropped by any person, the children will put that into the box,” he said.

“If one has sincerity, honesty, dedication then anything is possible to achieve”, Sheikh believes and added “there is still more to do for these poor and downtrodden children.

He said when he came to know that he had been selected for the national award he was on a picnic trip to Achabal garden in the district with his school children.

“It was completely surprising for me and for the children of my school, “he said and added “the children cried and hugged me for the honour”.


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